1. Identify Negative Self-Talk
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What people think about as they grow older can actually age their bodies. According to one source, “negative thoughts can lead to premature cell death—and that equals aging.” Ruminating on negative thoughts can lead to negative self-talk, and eventually, to negative body responses.
To be aware of negative self-talk, we need to examine our internalized thoughts and beliefs. It’s helpful to write down what we are thinking. Don’t edit those words—see them for what they are. Negative thought patterns will likely emerge if we do this for a few weeks.
As your inner critic speaks to you, and then the Holy Spirit, name any lies you currently believe about yourself. Recognize that Satan is a liar and he wants to destroy you (John 8:44; 1 Peter 5:8). Confront lies when tempted to use them again, and take your thoughts captive to obey the Lord. (Colossians 2:8; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
Some of the signs of a negative, unhealthy inner monologue include:
- thinking about losses and frustrations
- becoming upset by our inability to change things
- taking to heart things that are beyond our control
- thinking everything is our fault
- dwelling on inadequacies
- always thinking “the other shoe will drop”
- calling ourselves names
Negative self-talk might focus on the past—what was and what can’t be changed. This is often accompanied by depression. On the other hand, negative self-talk might haunt us as we become anxious about the future and develop a fatalistic perspective. The Bible warns about that in Matthew 6:34.
Not all thoughts about the past or future are negative, however. We can revisit past negative experiences and look for helpful lessons or reasons to be grateful; and remember past positive experiences to help us incorporate a new narrative into current circumstances. And we can ask God to give us a vision for how He can use us in the future, even as we age.
The healthiest self-talk focus is on the present—taking life day by day, hand in hand with the Father—reserving mental energy to help us speak truth to ourselves and wisely “seize the day.” We can retrain ourselves to see what is valuable for now and eternity, and learn to appreciate and cherish these things in the moment.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Tom Merton